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Exploring Whistler: What To Do And Where To Stay (PHOTOS)

Posted: 08/14/2012 7:00 am

World-class slopes, wonderful dining and a superb nightlife scene make Whistler one of the world's best spots for a winter vacation -- but who said ski resorts are only to be enjoyed during the colder months?

Those same bunny hills and black diamonds turn into fun hiking trails and mountain bike circuits when the snow melts, and the dining and drinking is taken outdoors, bringing a lively atmosphere to long, sunny summer days.

Check out our guide of what to do and where to stay in Whistler this summer -- and beyond.

-- Carolina Pirola,

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  • Shop and Dine Along the Village Stroll

    <strong>Do: Shop and dine along the Village Stroll </strong> The Village Stroll is a pedestrian street running parallel to Blackcomb Way from Lorimer Road all the way to the Garibaldi Lift at the foot of Blackcomb Mountains. Along the way you’ll find dozens of stores, restaurants and bars, where hundreds of people gather every day, both in the winter and in the summer. It’s basically the heart of the action, both in the summer and in the winter months. <strong> Stay: <a href="" target="_hplink">The Listel Hotel Whistler</a> </strong> The Listel offers its guests convenience in multiple forms: free in-room amenities such as Wi-Fi, coffee, and mini-fridges; a great location that's just a street over from Whistler Village's main drag; and equipment storage for summer and winter sports. The continental breakfast, although basic and sometimes crowded, is another free perk.

  • Play a Round of Golf

    <strong>Do: Play a few rounds of golf </strong> While skiing is the top activity in the winter, golfing is one of the most popular outdoor sports in the summer months. There are several great courses in the area, all offering wonderful mountain views and some pretty challenging sloped holes, too. Whether you’re an experienced golfer or a beginner, playing solo or with the family, you’re sure to find a course perfect for your level. <strong> Stay: <a href="" target="_hplink">Fairmont Chateau Whistler</a></strong> This 550-room hotel is perched amid Bavarian-styled buildings just outside of Whistler Village, with magnificent views and close proximity to attractions. The interior decor is typical of a Fairmont, but with a mountain-esque twist -- think crown molding meets exposed wooden beams and stone-tiled walls. Hit the excellent on-site golf course designed by Robert Trent Jr., and then round up the day with tasty Northwest cuisine at Wildflower restaurant or a drink in the classy lounge.

  • Get in an Olympic Mood at Medal Plaza

    <strong>Do: Get in an Olympic Mood at Medal Plaza </strong> Whistler came into the international spotlight during the 2010 Winter Olympics, when it hosted several skiing competitions. Every night during the Games, hundreds of people gathered in the Medal Plaza (aka Olympics Plaza) to watch the athletes accept their medals in a ceremony set against a backdrop of snow-covered peaks and gorgeous slopes. Today, the grounds feature outdoor performance spaces and a playground, and it’s a popular spot among locals and tourists alike, with a seasonal ice rink, outdoor performances, a lawn and public art celebrating the Olympics. <strong>Stay: <a href="" target="_hplink">Summit Lodge & Spa</a></strong> While not in the heart of the tourist action, this upper-mid-range hotel is right across from the Medals Plaza and just a short walk from pedestrian-only Village Stroll. It is pet- and family-friendly, with large, bright rooms featuring kitchenettes, fireplaces, balconies and free Wi-Fi. There’s also a small spa with Javanese-inspired treatments, and an outdoor Jacuzzi.

  • Ride a Mountain Bike down the Slopes

    <strong>Do: Ride your mountain bike down the slopes </strong> If you ever dreamed of being part of MTV’s Jackass crew, we’ve got good news for you. When the snow melts, tons of dirt are shaped into miniature hills all along some of the lowest slopes, turning them into a challenging mountain bike circuit. There’s an equipment rental center too, so pick a bike and enjoy! <strong>Stay: <a href="" target="_hplink">Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside</a> </strong> This 121-room hotel has a premier location in the heart of Whistler Village, across the street from the mountain bike circuit. Rooms are homey and functional, with light wood accents, space-saving Murphy beds, kitchenettes, and fireplaces. After a day braving the potholes, the outdoor Jacuzzi is a wonderful treat.

  • Hit the Trails

    <strong>Do: Hit the trails </strong> There are 18 wonderful trails in Whistler and Backcomb, ranging from easy and short to challenging double-loop tracks for experts. They all boast gorgeous (and sometimes panoramic) views, and are the perfect way to experience the beautiful mountains in the area. Make sure you have the three basics: sunscreen lotion, water and comfortable shoes, and that you check what the status of the trail is before setting off. <strong>Stay: <a href="" target="_hplink">Montebello</a> </strong> This well-kept rental complex featuring three-bedroom homes is about a 12-minute walk from the center of Whistler Village and a short drive from the trails. The units are popular among families, who enjoy the large bedrooms, the modern kitchens, and the quiet, neighborhood feel. But remember that this is a rental, not a resort, so don't expect amenities such as a pool, fitness center, or housekeeping.

  • Take a Gondola to the Very Top

    <strong>Do: Take a gondola to the very top</strong> Some ski lifts don’t stop when the snow melts, and continue shuttling visitors to the highest peaks year round. It’s not only one of the ways to get to the hiking trails, but also the fastest and most fun way of getting a bird’s-eye view of the stunning surrounding landscape, and maybe of some local fauna and flora, too. <strong>Stay: <a href="" target="_hplink">Four Seasons Resort Whistler</a> </strong> This is one of the most luxurious, beautiful resorts in Whistler. The property features a heated outdoor pool; a top-notch fitness center and spa; and large rooms and residences with gorgeous bathrooms, and of course, great mountain views. The location in Upper Village is a bit removed from the lively Whistler Village, but it's a short walk to the Peak 2 Peak Gondola lift up Whistler Blackcomb.

  • Enjoy the View from Your Balcony

    <strong>Do: Enjoy the view from your own balcony </strong> Enjoying the vistas from one's own balcony is one of the great small pleasures in life. Whether the view is of a lake (in the photo it’s Nita Lake), the village or the mountains, make sure to take a few minutes each day to take in the beauty of Whistler. <strong>Stay: <a href="" target="_hplink">Nita Lake Lodge</a> </strong> A luxurious escape from the madness of the touristy parts of Whistler, the 77 suites at Nita Lake Lodge evoke sophisticated, mountain-town style, with high, vaulted ceilings, fireplaces, and beautiful balconies with gorgeous views. There’s a small pool on-site, but guests can swim in the Nita Lake, and other lakes that are all within a 10-minute walk.

  • Discover the Squamish and Lil’wat Cultures

    <strong>Do: Discover the Squamish and Lil’wat cultures </strong> The best way to learn all about Whistler’s two native cultures is visiting the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Center, which features exhibitions, guided tours and workshops that help visitors understand the rich history and ancient traditions of these two fascinating nations. <strong>Stay: <a href="" target="_hplink">The Crystal Lodge & Suites</a> </strong> This property has a convenient location in the heart of Whistler Village, just a few minutes from the Squamish and Lil’wat Cultural Center. Upper-middle-range rooms are clean and bright (some have fireplaces, most have balconies) with clean bathrooms. Suites have large, fully stocked kitchenettes with dishwashers, and are great for families.

  • Visit the Whistler Adventure Center

    <strong>Do: Visit the Whistler Adventure Center </strong> The Adventure Center is a wonderful way to spend the day with the family. The park offers putt-putt golf, bungy trampolines, go karts, and a balloon slide and castle, among other fun activities. There are several types of passes, from the $41 Five Adventure Pass --which includes 5 activities and rides-- to the 15 Adventure Pass, which costs $109. <strong>Stay: <a href="" target="_hplink">The Westin Resort & Spa, Whistler</a> </strong> The Westin is one of the most kid-friendly hotels in the Village. Rooms here are all large, with kitchenettes, pull-out sofas, and fireplaces. Although not all rooms come with balconies, it's hard to find a bad view. And the location just steps off of Whistler's Village Stroll is close to the action.

  • Go Horseback Riding

    <strong>Do: Go horseback riding</strong> Another wonderful way of exploring the beautiful trails and surroundings is from the saddle of a horse. There are a couple of horseback riding schools in the area, and most offer guided tours for small and medium groups. There are excursions for every level of expertise, and visitors can choose from one-hour tours to day-long trips. <strong>Stay: <a href="" target="_hplink">Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa</a></strong> The Hilton has a small spa with Javanese-inspired treatments, a modern fitness center, large rooms, and an outdoor pool with beautiful views. But the highlight here is its location in central Whistler Village, offering easy access to Adventure Ranch, the most popular horseback riding school in the area.


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